MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Stinky Flower -Titan Arum

I don't know how many people out there have been frustrated by the Titan Arum... this flower is one finicky rarity.  And for the many years I have lived in this area, the specimens that the National Botanic Garden raise seem to bloom when I am out of town.   In 2013, when the last opportunity arose, it again opened while I was on travel; and while, I was able to make it home before it collapsed, I missed the flower in all its glory. 
They don't call this the Corpse Flower for nothing
... who wants to smell a flower that smells like a garbage bin in the summer, or like road-kill that has been cooking  on the road for days... well, apparently plenty of people because we stood in line at the Botanic Garden.  And that has never happened for anything else there.  For a moment there, I thought I was going to miss this one too.  We were on DC bloom watch for a week and I had a trip coming up in days... ACK!  I dragged by boyfriend to see the flower and got to see spadix (the spike) still wrapped in the spathe (one huge petal).  And two days later, it finally opened.  A friend and I went, during lunch, to see it/smell it!  Finally!  I guess it is a check off the flower bucket list (I am just not sure I have one of those, yet).

The Titan is the "rock star" of the plant world - (1) it rarely makes an appearance, (2) it is HUGE, (3) it is iconic  (4) it builds suspense and (5) it is picky.  When I say rare, I mean it - it takes a lot of energy to grow over 7 feet tall.  It is the largest unsupported flower in the world.  Because of that, titan can take anywhere between a few years and a few decades to bloom.  I have seen the average listed between 7 - 10 years, BUT that is only an average.  The one in New York took 70 years to open before it bloomed in July 2016.   The titan arum emerges from, and stores energy in its corm, a huge underground stem. It's pickiness makes botanical gardens a good place to support it; it requires very special conditions, including warm day and night temperatures and high humidity.  And due to its unique nature, this is a threatened flower. 

The botanic garden lines were sizable.  People we posing for selfies in front of it.  There was a web cam (which I used to constantly check the status).  Did you know you only have 1-2 days to see this thing once it opens?  And some were wondering why it wasn't more stinky ... yep, people wanted more stench.  What they did not know was that the back of the flower was cut open so botanists could get to the male and female plant parts, collect pollen and blow some pollen from another corpse flower onto the female parts.  This giant flower is NOT self pollinating.  It relies on flies and beetles... or humans with straws.  It takes a lot of work to see this natural wonder.  So check you local city gardens... go see the stinky flower when you have the chance!

No comments:

Post a Comment